It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share some of the titles you’ve been enjoying, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.
Here are a couple books I’ve enjoyed this week!
AMELIA IS A VERY BIG BUNNY. At recess, the other bunnies tell her that her feet are too long for hopscotch, they say she’s too tall to jump rope, and of course, no one will get on the seesaw with her. Amelia is a very big and lonely bunny. But when a new very small bunny named Susannah arrives in the classroom, something amazing happens. Readers will delight as they watch Amelia transform from a shy bunny into a confident friend. From author-illustrator Marisabina Russo comes an endearing tale that celebrates the power of friendship and the fun of standing out in a crowd. With lively accessible artwork, here is the perfect book for every little bunny who worries about fitting in.
Books about fitting in, being yourself and dealing with bullies abound in children’s literature. What makes A Very Big Bunny special is the way in which author/illustrator Marisabina Russo really seems to understand children and their experiences. Amelia, the titular very big bunny, feels sad, lonely and left out. When a very small bunny named Susannah arrives, it might seem natural that the two outcasts should become immediate friends – in fact, one Goodreads reviewer expressed disappointment that this wasn’t the case.
Russo, however, understands that life isn’t always this simple. It can be difficult for a child who has been left out or teased to learn to trust other children again. Tragically a child’s self-esteem can be so damaged that it can be difficult for them to fathom why another child might want to be friends with them at all.
And unfortunately, when someone has been repeatedly teased or left out by their peers, there can be a terrible temptation to turn around and treat someone else poorly, in order to feel more important, and to experience some measure of power or control by doing to other people what has been done to them.
Amelia isn’t a bad bunny, she’s just a sad and hurt bunny, and it takes her a while to warm up to the strange new little bunny, and to realise that Susannah actually wants to be her friend. Eventually, though, the two become the best of friends, and discover that the truest friends are the ones who don’t just love us in spite of the things that make us different, but because of them.
I also appreciated the fact that while Amelia’s classmates do comment on her and Susannah’s size, it is their actions that really make Amelia feel so lonely and left out, which just serves to emphasise how nuanced and complex classroom dynamics can be, and how important it is to remind children that their actions can have just as much impact on others as their words. Avoiding name-calling isn’t enough – to truly create a welcoming, inclusive environment we need to speak with our actions, as well.
Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis—and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because everyone seems to have a Thing except her. Abbie Wu is always in crisis.
From author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is and where she belongs. Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone in the middle of figuring out how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up.
Oh. My. Goodness. I love Abbie. I love, love, love Abbie. As a fellow neurotic worrywart who spent her entire youth in a state of near-panic, I have a feeling that Abbie and I would have been fast friends. Booki Vivat absolutely nails what it’s like to be “always in crisis”, worrying about this, that and the other, to the confusion (and amusement) of well-meaning family and friends who think you should just “stop worrying”.
So many children will be able to relate to Abbi and her struggle to find her “thing” – what’s a girl to do when everyone else seems to have found their thing, the one thing that they’re good at, passionate about, or will be known for? In Abbi’s case, her “thing” might just involve a hilarious bit of cafeteria social activism!
Abbi is such a delightful character, as are her family and friends. The book is filled with doodles and drawings that will appeal to fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries and Dear Dumb Diary. It’s also nice to see a Chinese girl taking center stage in a series! Definitely a fun series to check out.
Have a great week, friends!